What makes a city great? What are the attributes that makes anything "great?" That is, what differentiates between a good movie and a great movie, a talented painting and a great painting, some good food and a great meal? Sure there are people who study this stuff: food critiques, art historians, anthropologists. But I don´t want to discount that the average joe or jane does not have the ability to declare something great. How do we know when we are walking down the street of a city that it is a great city? Cities include buildings, people, cars, busses, bicycles, restaurants, street lights, plants, everything that every other city has. So what separates from Paris from Dallas? New York from La Paz? Barcelona from Omaha?
After days of rain I finally had a sunny day to explore Barcelona. I listened to Spanish roll off the tongues of the natives as children ran around the dried leaves falling from the city trees. I followed the cobblestone streets to the harbor and watched the white capped waves crash into rocks near the beach as wandering souls built sandcastles for Euros and painted pictures for change. Pigeons swooped toward old men throwing bread crumbs and ladies gossiped on the park bench. How does this city differ than any other? Maybe it is the scences I see that I have read about in poetry and seen in movies and paintings. So why did artists choose a city like this? Does Omaha have the same potential of becoming a great city? It may be as simple as that we just need someone to write a famous poem about the beauty of Omaha.
The flat plains of glowing Omaha,
Oh how you make me wanna
Jump around the suburbs
In my Dodge Caravan
and sing about every woman and man
who goes to church on Sunday,
shops at Target on Monday,
and dreams about their growing roth IRA.
Oh glowing Omaha.
Ok now I´m just being mean to Omaha. But really, I´m not sure I can answer my own question of what makes a city great. I think it depends on the weather, if you have eaten or slept, and who you are traveling with. Cities do not give birth to greatness; it is the people as a collective that are responsible for their own greatness. Because of this, cities are in a state of constant flux and no one person could ever pin point the greatness of a city, or even what defines a city at all. So what defines Barcelona? I do, right at this moment.
But now it´s gone.